UCLA Professor Keith L. Camacho of the Department of Asian American Studies is the inaugural 2011-12 recipient of the Don T. Nakanishi Award for Outstanding Engaged Scholarship in Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies at UCLA.
Since his appointment to the Asian American Studies Department in 2006, Professor Camacho has played a vital role in linking the academic interests of the campus with the educational aspirations and needs of the Pacific Islander communities in California. In this capacity, Professor Camacho has assisted various Pacific Islander community organizations, such as Guam Communications Network, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), the First Christian Church of Wilmington, Kutturan Chamoru Foundation, National Pacific Islander Education Network, Pacific Islander Ethnic Art Museum (PieAM), and Weaving an Islander Network for Cancer Awareness Research and Training (WINCART), among others. As he has stated, "With the assistance and expertise of Pacific Islander elders and youth, I have labored to critically merge the academic and service paradigms of Asian American Studies with the everyday concerns of the Pacific Islander communities."
Professor Camacho's recently published book, Cultures of Commemoration: The Politics of War, Memory and History in the Mariana Islands was awarded the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize. He also served as guest editor of the landmark Amerasia Journal 37:3(2011) special issue, "Transoceanic Flows: Pacific Islander Interventions across the American Empire." Professor Camacho received his B.A. from the University of Guam, a Masters in Pacific Island Studies and a Ph.D. in History (with Distinction) from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.
Colleagues and students passionately supported Professor Camacho for the award. As a faculty colleague stated, "Professor Camacho has demonstrated a deep and sustained commitment to the style of engaged scholarship practiced by Don Nakanishi. This has required both personal and professional sacrifices that few young academics have been willing to make. Keith is pursuing engaged scholarship in the best way possible. UCLA and AAS are fortunate to have him as a faculty member." One student commented: "As a professor he has pushed students to think of larger global issues and has always believed in the great potential [of] students..." and continued, "He has been the vital link between the academic institution of UCLA to other Pacific Island community members both within Southern California and throughout the Pacific." In his short time at UCLA, Professor Camacho has been truly tremendous as an engaged scholar, teacher, and in providing service to the community.
Through the generosity of UCLA faculty, students, staff, and alumni as well as community leaders, an endowment was established that honors Professor Emeritus Don T. Nakanishi, who served on the UCLA faculty for thirty-five years and who ably directed the Asian American Studies Center (1990-2010). Among his invaluable contributions to Asian American Studies, Professor Nakanishi co-founded two, national publications: Amerasia Journal (1971) and AAPI Nexus: Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy, Practice, and Community Research (2003). Professor Nakanishi published widely in the areas of Asian American politics and education, mentored thousands of students, and provided professional and community-based service locally, nationally, and internationally. The Nakanishi Award includes a five thousand dollar award.
Please join me in congratulating Professor Keith L. Camacho!